When the inquiry was first launched in August of last year there were already concerns about how it would be conducted.
Months after the Canadian government officially launched an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women after years of grassroots pressure by Indigenous feminists, families of the victims are dismayed at its progress.
First, there are just 122 family members’ names in the commission’s database — while a number of other databases pin the number at well over 1,000. In 2014, the government’s own Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found almost 1,200 documented cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women between 1980 and 2012.
People are also dismayed that the onus is on family members themselves to register the names to the commission.
Sue Montgomery, a commission spokesperson, told CBC News that family members can register through email, fax, mail or via the inquiry website.
Anita Ross, whose teen daughter Delaine Copenace was found murdered last spring in downtown Kenora, Ontario, is one of many concerned about the process.
“Not everyone emails, or uses Facebook, or has access to the internet,” Ross said to CBC.
“I don’t like to just give information to any website,” she added. “I never got no acknowledgement or saying that I am now registered.”
Roxana Wilson, whose six-year-old daughter Adriane Cecile Wadhams was murdered in June 1989, said she was appalled to learn how few names are in the commission’s database
“I really believe there should be an advocate in place for people in small remote communities, such as myself,” she told CBC.
The interim president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Francyne Joe, does not agree with many of the commission’s conduct either.
“Putting the onus on family members, it’s problematic in that family members are not given the tools and sufficient time to submit their names,” Joe said to CBC.
When the inquiry was first launched in August of last year, there were already concerns about how it would be conducted.
Pam Palmater, an Indigenous activist and professor at Ryerson University, in an email to teleSUR at the time, said that while it was good Canada was taking action on its commitment to the inquiry, neither its terms of reference nor its choice of commissioners was done in collaboration with Indigenous groups.
“We need to get at the root causes of why this situation exists in the first place, whether that be poverty, marginalization, discrimination and address those in a substantive way,” she added.
Palmater had also shared concerns surrounding the fact that not all the commissioners are Indigenous, and that men are part of the panel, “given that this inquiry is about male violence against women.” The families of the victims in particular wanted all Indigenous women to lead the report.